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Anglicans and Mennonites enter ecumenical dialogue

Posted on: July 18th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, addresses members of General Synod 2016. Photo: Art Babych

For the first time in its history, the Anglican Church of Canada will enter into a bilateral ecumenical dialogue with Mennonite Church Canada (MCC) following a motion passed at General Synod, July 12.

The motion’s mover, Bruce Myers, coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Quebec and former co-ordinator of ecumenical relations for the national church, explained that as the Anglican church’s relationship to mainstream society changes, it could benefit from talking to a church that has always had a fraught relationship with the mainstream.

“Mennonites have often existed as a church on the margins, both historically and in the contemporary Canadian context,” he noted. “As the Anglican Church of Canada enters a new stage of its life, some of us have been asking if there is something we can learn from our Mennonite sisters and brothers, about living faithfully as disciples of Jesus on the margins of society.”

Myers said the bilateral dialogue would be based on a new approach to ecumenism based not on an attempt to minimize differences, but to receive it as a “gift.”

This “receptive ecumenism” is a way for churches to learn from the differences in each other’s theology and lived experience, without feeling the need to push toward reunion or a full communion relationship.

Earlier in the day, synod had heard from Willard Metzger, executive director of MCC, who had just flown into Toronto after the close of his own church’s biennial assembly in Saskatoon.

Commenting on the Anglican church’s vote on the solemnization of same-sex marriage, Metzger noted that his own church is wrestling with similar questions, and shared his excitement over the possibility of an Anglican-Mennonite dialogue.

“Many of our Mennonite people are finding richness in the liturgical services that are in many of your Anglican parishes,” said Metzger, adding that in Winnipeg, a city with one of the largest Mennonite populations in Canada, the term “Manglican” has been coined to describe those who identify and participate in both religious traditions.

Metzger went on to note that in his experience, many Christians in post-Christendom Canada are finding that they can “comfortably belong to many different expressions of Christian faith at the same time.”

Following the passing of the motion, Myers said he had “only heard positive echoes about where the conversations could go,” and added that the dialogue—which has a six-year mandate—will likely hold its first face-to-face meeting in 2017.

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.


Anglican Journal News, July 18, 2016

Primate calls for humility, ‘patience’ after marriage vote

Posted on: July 14th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Archbishop Fred Hitz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, at the closing worship of General Synod 2016. Photo: Art Babych

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, is asking Canadian Anglicans to display humility and love for one another in the wake of the divisive vote on same-sex marriage. Hiltz says he prays that the church not be riven, but that Canadian Anglicans strive for the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” mentioned by St. Paul. “More than ever we must make efforts not to turn away from one another but rather to one another, not to ignore but to recognize one another, not to walk apart but together,” the primate says. “We need as a Church to work hard at maintaining our communion in Christ, for in his reconciling love is our hope and our life.”

In a statement released Thursday, July 14, Hiltz says that in light of Monday’s apparent decision and its reversal Tuesday, he prayed the church would take seriously a plea made by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians:

“I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Of the results announced Monday, seemingly the rejection of a resolution to allow same-sex marriages, Hiltz says, “The pastoral implication was that LGBTQ2S persons and those who have accompanied them were disappointed and saddened. Many wept. The synod sat in silence.”

The primate then relates how a resolution was subsequently passed to make the results public, whereupon it was revealed that one vote did not end up being recorded as falling in the Order of Clergy—a pivotal discovery, since the vote had initially appeared to fail only in that order, and by only a fraction of a percentage point. When he announced the resolution had in fact passed its first reading, the primate says, “The pastoral implication was that a number of members of Synod were disappointed and saddened. Many wept. The Synod sat in silence.”

Hiltz notes that the issue has “deeply divided” the church for a long time, and that the division remains despite the vote. “In the midst of this division, I need to take to heart Paul’s counsel and I encourage our whole Church to do the same,” he says. Paul, the primate says, also reminds us that as Christians we are “the Body of Christ, members one of another,” and that, in Hiltz’s words, “we in fact need each other, and need to find ways to make room for one another.”

Canadian Anglicans, he says, must now ask themselves, “For what kind of pastoral and prophetic witness can and will we be known?”

Hiltz also notes that, while the resolution to change the marriage canon will be before the next General Synod, in 2019, in the meantime it is to be considered by diocesan and provincial synods.

The primate also says he commends a resolution passed by General Synod Tuesday morning that reaffirms the 2004 General Synod statement on the integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships and also calls on the church to “engage fully…at every level” with “This Holy Estate,” the report of the commission on same-sex marriage.

“I call the Church to seize this opportunity,” the primate says, adding that he will ask the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to look into translating at least its executive summary and frequently asked questions, and consider “what other resources might be helpful” for Canadian Anglicans pondering the issue. He will also, Hiltz says, ask the bishops to consider how the church might encourage members to engage more with the matter, and ask them also to “show strong leadership in their dioceses in hosting events, dialogues, and studies.”

Hiltz says he wants to encourage members of the church to engage much more with LGBTQ2S [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited] people. “We have spent a lot of time talking about them. I believe we need to take much more time to talk with them and to learn of their lived experience of covenanted love in relationships that are monogamous and life-long,” Hiltz says. “I know that will require of all of us a good deal of courage and grace.”

Hiltz’s statement concludes with a request that Canadian Anglicans pray for one another with Paul’s words to the Ephesians in mind.

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.


Anglican Journal News, July 14, 2016

The vote on same-sex marriage: What went wrong?

Posted on: July 14th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary, (middle), apologizes to General Synod “for the confusion” caused by the voting error.  Photo: Art Babych

One miscounted vote reversed the Anglican Church of Canada’s rejection of same-sex marriage, July 12.

So how did the error occur?

Incorrect information sent to Data-on-the Spot, the electronic voting services provider contracted to manage the voting by clickers, led to the mistake, according to Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary.

The vote to change the marriage canon (church law) to allow the solemnization of same-sex marriages required a two-thirds majority in each of the Orders of Laity, Clergy and Bishops, but the original count of the vote on the night of July 11 showed the motion had failed to pass by one vote in the Order of Clergy.

The error, according to Thompson,  originated with an Excel spreadsheet compiled by his office, which listed him and General Synod Chancellor David Jones as being non-voting members of General Synod. The spreadsheet had listed Thompson as “clergy, non-voting.” According to the Constitution of General Synod, both the general secretary and the chancellor have full voting privileges.

“This was an error that took place in my office,” Thompson said in an interview with the Anglican Journal. “It is not an error that was caused by the electronic voting. It is a mistake that we made…[Data-on-the Spot] simply took the information that we gave them and accurately coded it into their electronic system.”

Thompson had previously issued an apology on the floor of General Synod in which he noted that the “good order of General Synod is my responsibility as general secretary…[and] I want to apologize to the General Synod for the confusion that has been caused.”

The issue of Jones’s and Thompson’s voting privileges was brought to light the day before synod began, said J.P. Copeland, integration specialist for Data-on-the-Spot (DOTS), the electronic voting services provider contracted by General Synod to manage the voting by clickers. When Thompson was manually added to the list of voting members, however, he was wrongly coded as a layperson, instead of as a member of the Order of Clergy—a fact that was discovered only after a printed list of how General Synod members had voted was examined.

“It was literally like a hand addition that was communicated to me,” Copeland told the Anglican Journal, speaking of the request to have Thompson added to the voting list. “I don’t have a record of where it came from, who told me what, or whether I heard improperly or whether I read it improperly.”

Thompson said that once General Synod members noted the apparent discrepancy between the vote as it was announced Monday night and the numbers that were made available the next day identifying how members had voted, it was Copeland who first realized the nature of the error.

“The people who helped us most know the nature of the error that had taken place was Data-on-the-Spot,” said Thompson.

Prior to the vote it was requested that the names and votes of each member be made public in the minutes. (For this to happen, three members of synod must make the request before the vote takes place.)

A motion was then brought Tuesday afternoon, July 12, requesting that the information be made available to synod members before the end of the 41st session of General Synod—rather than wait for publication of the minutes, which requires a few weeks—so that members could check their own votes.

The motion was moved by Canon Kevin Robertson and seconded by Canon David Harrison, both of the diocese of Toronto.

Harrison had approached the floor earlier on Tuesday asking if the publication of the voting data could be expedited, but was told it would not be available until the minutes were. He had spoken on the same point following further confusion with voting in the afternoon, to no avail.

Finally, he asked his fellow diocesan member, Robertson, if he would be willing to join him in bringing a motion asking for the information to be provided.

“We figured it was a public list, it was not a secret ballot, and if we weren’t using clickers and we were voting in the old way, people would know in the moment who was voting and how,” Robertson said in an interview with the Anglican Journal.

Harrison said that given the issues with technology that were seen on Tuesday, he simply wanted clarity on the issue.

“Given that it was a matter of one vote…I thought it was appropriate to have people have the chance to see the numbers to confirm their votes were counted, and that is what happened,” Harrison said in a separate interview.

Once the motion passed and the list was made available, several groups of members independently examined the numbers, and found that while the Monday night vote had recorded 51 of 77 clergy in favour of changing the marriage canon, according to the list that had been published, 52 of 78 had voted in favour—enough to push the vote over the two-thirds threshold.

Recount shows the final numbers and percentages in the three orders: bishop, clergy and laity. Graphic by: Saskia Rowley

Thompson confirmed that if the decision had not been made to record the identities of the voters, the error would never have been caught.

But concerns about the integrity of other parts of the process were also raised on Tuesday. Three members—Archdeacon Pierre Voyer, the Rev. Danny Whitehead and Ruth Sheeran—told the house that while they had voted in favour of the motion on Monday night, they were not recorded as having done so.

These concerns were not addressed by synod, because immediately after they were brought forward, it was discovered that Thompson’s vote was enough to swing the decision.

“There didn’t seem to be a will on the part of the house to pursue that, since the discovery of my missing ballot had made that less vital—it wasn’t going to change the outcome [of the vote],” Thompson said, when asked why the three concerns raised were not dealt with by synod.

Thompson added that while he did not know why those votes were not recorded, there are many possible explanations, one being that they were a result of mistakes made by the voters themselves.

Copeland, who said he has conducted hundreds of electronic elections, agreed, cautioning that there is always room for human error in electronic voting.

“It’s hard to say why their vote wasn’t recorded,” he said, noting that there are a number of possible explanations, such as pressing the wrong number or voting too late. “I am supremely confident in the system itself…the most likely scenario is that although they think they voted, for one reason or another, they didn’t.”

Thompson does not believe this should bring into question other decisions made by the 41st General Synod.

“While some people may have made a mistake and done the electronic equivalent of a spoiled ballot, I don’t think there is any doubt on the integrity of the process,” he said.

Copeland agreed, noting that following the discovery of the error, he revisited another close vote that had taken place earlier in the day and ascertained that Thompson’s vote would not have influenced it either way.

“[The marriage canon vote] literally was the only vote that was close enough to be compromised by the mis-categorization,” Copeland said.

Thompson said the church will need to think through how best to approach voting at future synods, and while he was reluctant to comment on what exactly that will look like, he said many people are “highly motivated” to ensure maximum accuracy.

“We are going to look at all the things we learned from this synod, and make improvements in the way we conduct business in the next one,” he said.

Copeland said there are several technological options available to make sure that voters have as much confidence as possible that their votes are being recorded accurately, including screens that will show when each member has voted.

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.


Anglican Journal News, July 14, 2016

Statement on the vote count on Marriage Canon Resolution (A-051-R2)

Posted on: July 13th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

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Statement on the vote count on Marriage Canon Resolution (A-051-R2)

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The events leading to the passage, at first reading, of a motion to amend the Canon on Marriage so as to provide for the solemnization in the church of same-sex marriages are complex. On July 11, the motion was declared defeated in the order of clergy, where it appeared not to have achieved the necessary two-thirds majority in that order. The actual numbers recorded electronically were 51 in favour and 26 opposed. The motion did achieve that majority among the bishops and among the laity.

In the last hours of the General Synod, a number of issues emerged that led initially to some confusion, and then, with the support of the company providing electronic voting, to clarity that an error on our part had led to a failure to count one clergy vote.

All of this took place following two procedural motions. The first called for a recorded vote, and the second for that record to be made public before the end of General Synod. When that record was made known, a number of members of Synod noted that the electronic count from the previous day was not consistent with the print record distributed as a PDF to the members of Synod, and brought this to the attention of the head table. The chancellor and I left immediately to consult in another room during a short break, and were joined by the person supporting electronic voting, J. P. Copeland of Data-on-the-Spot.

It was at that point that Mr. Copeland, the person supporting the electronic voting, discovered that it was in fact my own vote as General Secretary that had been overlooked in the electronic count. Initially, we thought that it had been miscoded as a lay vote, rather than as a clergy vote. We have since been provided, by Mr. Copeland, the list from which the electronic voting was coded, a list prepared by my office. That list described the General Secretary as “clergy, non-voting”. Data-on-the-spot simply coded the information that my office gave them. This error took place in my office, and I take responsibility for it. We were more than well-served by Data-on-the-spot. In fact, without Mr. Copeland’s prompt attention, I am not sure that we would have discovered the nature of the error and had a chance to understand and correct it.

That error was then shared with the assessors, who provide procedural advice to chancellor. In this case the advice we sought was about the proper procedure to inform the synod of this error. They gave the immediate and unanimous advice that it was the role of the chancellor to provide this information. We returned to the head table and the chancellor informed synod of the failure to count one vote.

After a period of some consternation, the Primate in his role as president of General Synod verbally reviewed the chancellor’s new information. Based on that information, he declared that the motion had received, in all three orders, the majority required by the constitution, and that the motion had been passed.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, July  13, 2016

Voting error reveals Anglican same-sex marriage motion passed after all

Posted on: July 13th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Archdeacon Pierre Voyer, the Rev. Danny Whitehead and Ruth Sheeran tell General Synod that their votes to change the marriage canon were not recorded by the clickers.
Photo: Art Babych

Richmond Hill, Ont.
In a stunning reversal, a recount of the vote to allow same-sex marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada showed that while the motion was originally reported to have failed by one vote in the order of clergy, it had, in fact, passed by one vote there.

As a roomful of Anglicans from across Canada watched in surprise, hope and, in some cases, shock, a decision that had already caused a great deal of controversy in the past 24 hours was shown never to have been made in the first place.

The Monday evening vote to change the marriage canon had been a surprise for many. While it was popularly expected to be close, given that a two-thirds majority was needed in each of the Orders of Laity, Clergy and Bishops, the assumption had been that it would come down to the bishops.

In fact, the motion appeared to have been scuttled by the Order of Clergy, with the vote originally recording 51 of 77 clergy in favour of changing the marriage canon.

As it turned out, this number did not include the vote of Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of General Synod. With Thompson’s vote counted, it became 52 of 78 in favour, nudging the vote above the required threshold of a two-thirds majority.

The error was caused by the electronic clickers used in voting, said  General Synod Chancellor David Jones.

Because Thompson’s position as an officer automatically makes him a member of General Synod, Thompson was not listed as a member of his order (clergy) in the electronic database, as would happen with any other delegate. Because he was not registered as a member of the clergy, the program that tabulated the results did not include his vote in the votes cast by members of the clergy.

This was discovered when Canon Kevin Robertson, of the diocese of Toronto, brought a motion to the floor of synod on Tuesday afternoon calling for the list of how each member had voted on the marriage canon to be made public . (It had been decided that this information would be recorded during the legislative session leading up to the vote.)

After the motion passed and the information was made public, the votes were recounted and it was discovered that Thompson’s had not been included in the numbers for the Order of Clergy.

Thompson was not the only victim of reported irregularities: Archdeacon Pierre Voyer, of the diocese of Quebec, the Rev. Danny Whitehead, of the Territory of the People, and Ruth Sheeran, of the diocese of Quebec—all of whom were in favour of changing the canon—came forward to say that their votes had not been recorded at all.

However, as Canon David Burrows of the diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador pointed out, even without the uncounted votes, the new total including Thompson’s vote—52 for, 26 against—was enough to change the outcome.

These facts were confirmed by Jones.

“We actually have a two-thirds majority vote in the Order of Clergy,” a somewhat dazed Archbishop Fred Hiltz announced to the house, which filled with a rumble of whispers.

Dean Peter Wall, of the diocese of Niagara, asked that the primate and his advisors simply declare the motion passed, at which point Hiltz reminded Wall and the rest of the house that the motion, being a question of doctrine, requires a vote in two consecutive meetings of General Synod in order to be passed.

Hiltz did, however, note that though it will not yet become canon law, it had passed its first reading.

At this point, Thompson spoke up to apologize for the error.

“The good order of General Synod is my responsibility as general secretary,” he said. “I want to apologize to the General Synod for the confusion that has been caused.”

After the change was announced, several members from the diocese of Caledonia, including Bishop William Anderson, walked out of the hall, followed shortly by a number of members from the Arctic, including Bishops David Parsons and Darren McCartney.

Given the time constraints, the primate indicated that synod business would continue as scheduled, with the next item being thanks extended to volunteers and staff at General Synod.

However, Bishop Rob Hardwick, of the diocese of Qu’Appelle, chastised the house for not extending the same sympathy and care to those who had opposed the motion to change the marriage canon in their moment of pain it had granted those who were in favour of it.

“Last night, as a diocese, we sat in this room until just about everyone left. As a diocese, we prayed for everyone who stayed in this room. I don’t see that same concern being shown to those who might be feeling pained, disappointed, shocked,” he said.

The Rev. Peter Boote, also from Qu’Appelle, joined his bishop to speak about another concern: the work that was done in conversation groups during Tuesday’s morning session on how synod could learn from the pain and difficulty of debates about the marriage canon to move toward less adversarial models of governance.

“My concern is that now this is passed, all of that work that was done this morning will be forgotten, and we won’t learn, and we will think that this is a good thing to do again,” he said. “I’m just concerned that we can actually learn from what we’ve put together this morning and use it to go forward.”

Hiltz assured him that the work done in the morning session would be sent to Council of General Synod and the House of Bishops for more intensive study.

The primate also apologized to Hardwick and anyone else who felt they had not been extended adequate care, in a much fuller apology in the hour that followed, during the closing worship service.

“I neglected to invite us into a time of silence before God and one another, and to remember those whose lives are in turmoil now, because of a different outcome,” he said, before inviting the gathering into two minutes of silent prayer and reflection.

“I need to say to synod, and particularly to those who feel that I was insensitive this afternoon, that I apologize, and I hope you will forgive me.”

Hiltz also noted that he would release a pastoral response to the whole church in the coming days.

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.


Anglican Journal News, July 12, 2016

A statement from The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary

Posted on: July 12th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

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Today we discovered that the electronic voting system we were using miscoded my electronic file. I was listed, and my vote was counted, as a lay person instead of a priest. This one vote changed the outcome of resolution A051-R2—the resolution to amend the marriage canon.

This vote has been difficult for many, and no outcome can address all of our church’s need to live and work together.

We have a long road ahead to restore our common life.

In the meantime, the whole church has three years to consider and comment on this matter. In 2019, the resolution will come to the General Synod for second reading.

Yours in Christ,

The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson
General Secretary
The Anglican Church of Canada


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, July 12, 2016

Niagara, Ottawa to offer same-sex marriages; Toronto to consider

Posted on: July 12th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

 Niagara Bishop Michael Bird says Anglican conventions allow a diocesan bishop to “exercise episcopal authority” to permit liturgies that “respond to pastoral needs within their dioceses.”  Photo: Art Babych

Richmond Hill, Ont.

Within hours of the defeat of a motion to amend the marriage canon of the Anglican Church of Canada, at least two dioceses had announced plans to go ahead with same-sex marriages, with a third saying it would consider this course of action.

In a prepared statement,  Niagara Bishop Michael Bird  cited General Synod chancellor Canon (lay) David Jones, who announced in synod Monday, July 11, that the marriage canon in its present form does not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage.

In Jones’s words, the statement said, the canon “does not contain either a definition of marriage or a specific prohibition against solemnizing same-sex marriage.” It’s also clear, it continued, that Anglican conventions allow bishops to authorize “liturgies to respond to pastoral needs within their dioceses, in the absence of any actions by this General Synod to address these realities.

“Accordingly, and in concert with several other bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, it is my intention to immediately exercise this authority to respond to the sacramental needs of the LGBTQ2 community in the Diocese of Niagara,”  said Bird.

There being currently no approved liturgy for this in Canada, the statement said, “I am authorizing The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage and The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2  for use in our diocese,” liturgy recently created by The Episcopal Church intended for the marriage of “any duly qualified couples.”

General Synod’s vote against changing the marriage canon, the statement said, is “deeply regrettable and inconsistent with the ever more inclusive witness of our Church that has inspired this synod’s theme: ‘You are my witnesses’ (Isaiah 43).

“My sincere hope is that God’s grace will inspire all Canadian Anglicans to continue to break bread together in the days ahead,” the statement continued. “I want to say, as a bishop charged with guarding the faith, unity and discipline of the Church, that I solemnly pledge to do my part to ensure that this is indeed the case.”

A similar statement was issued by Bishop John Chapman, of the diocese of Ottawa.

“When the vote was announced I was extremely disappointed,” Chapman said. “It is now up to and within the authority of a diocesan bishop to respond in a manner that they deem appropriate.

“It is my intention, in consultation with and in partnership with a number of other diocesan bishops to proceed with same-sex marriages immediately within the Diocese of Ottawa,” he said. “While no clergy will be required to officiate at a same sex marriage, those willing may do so with my permission.

“This is a pastoral decision that is necessary at this time in our history as a diocese and as a church.”

In a videotaped statement,  Archbishop Colin Johnson, of the diocese of Toronto, also suggested the canon does not in fact forbid same-sex marriages.

“The integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships was affirmed by our church in 2004,” Johnson said. “I know there will be some among you who will disagree with me, but I do believe that the logical next step would be to permit same-sex marriages in the Church at the pastoral discretion of the Bishop and with the agreement of local clergy.  This is an option I will be considering in the coming weeks.

“I am advised that this option would not contravene the marriage canon, and I am confident it would be supported by the majority—even if not all—of our bishops, clergy, laity and the wider community.”

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Dennis Drainville, bishop of Quebec, said he agreed with Jones’s assessment of the marriage canon in its current, unamended form.

“He’s right in terms of the canons…The implication of that is there is nothing prohibiting anyone from moving forward,” Drainville said.

However, Drainville suggested he had no intention to allow same-sex marriages in his diocese until there’s a decision by the national church.

“I’m not one of those who will go ahead when the church hasn’t made a decision yet…[As for] my successor, I have no idea—we’re in transition right now in our diocese.”

Last August, Drainville announced he would probably retire in 2017. His successor will be the current coadjutor bishop, Bruce Myers.

Commenting on the primate’s announcement that the motion to amend the marriage canon had been defeated, Drainville said, “You could tell from the silence, everyone was shocked…It’s going to take some time to work the emotions out and figure out where we go from here.”


—With files from Marites Sison 


About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.


Anglican Journal News, July 12, 2016

Canadian Anglicans reject same-sex marriage by one vote

Posted on: July 12th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Some members bow their head in prayer before the vote is called.
Photo: Art Babych

Richmond Hill, Ont.
A resolution to change the marriage canon (church law) to allow for the solemnization of marriages of same-sex couples failed to pass by a fraction of a percentage point at the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod July 11.

The vote, which required a two-thirds majority in each of the Orders of Laity, Clergy and Bishops, received 72.22% support from the laity and 68.42% in the Order of Bishops, but only 66.23% in the Order of Clergy—0.43% shy of the 66.66% needed.

The vote came after a five-hour legislative session on the floor of synod, in which over 60 members from all orders and regions of the church spoke about their support, opposition and ambivalence concerning the motion before them.

Many members expressed sorrow that no matter how they voted, it would cause pain to someone. Many members told highly personal stories of their own treatment as LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer] people, in the Anglican church in particular, and their experiences with Christianity in general. Others were concerned that changing the marriage canon would be a violation of orthodox Christian doctrine.

“It is not about unconditional love,” said the Rev. Annie Ittoshat, an Inuit priest working in the diocese of Montreal. “It is about what is clearly written in the word of God.”

Siobhan Bennett, a youth delegate from the diocese of Niagara, disagreed.

“If we only needed the Bible, there would be no need for synod,” she said. “But we do need it, because we need the human interpretation of Scripture, and we live our faith—not just read it.”

While much of the debate vacillated between those who want greater inclusion for LGBTQ people in the church and those who believe homosexuality is sinful, some members argued that the motion left room for both sides to do right by their local context.

Bishop William Cliff, of the diocese of Brandon, said he would feel comfortable voting for the motion, because while his own diocesan synod may ask him not to licence clergy to solemnize same-sex marriages, that doesn’t mean others shouldn’t have the same choice.

“[My diocese] will make this choice for themselves, and I will concur with their choice because it is their choice,” he said. “But I also as a bishop of the whole church do not want to stand in the way of those who wish to speak and care and love for those in their midst.”

The motion that was brought to synod had included a comprehensive conscience clause that  allowed parishes, priests, diocesan bishops and synods to opt-out of the change, but was amended at the beginning of the legislative session in a motion brought by Archbishop Colin Johnson, of the diocese of Toronto.

Johnson’s amendment removed the original conscience clause stipulations and replaced them with an opt-in that would require a diocesan bishop to authorize same-gender marriages.

The vote came as a result of a resolution passed at General Synod 2013 asking Council of General Synod (CoGS) to bring a motion for a change to the marriage canon allowing same-sex marriage, to General Synod 2016. The resolution also required broad consultation across the Canadian church, and with ecumenical partners and the leadership bodies in the global Anglican Communion.

However, as the debate went on, it became increasingly clear that synod members had radically different experiences with debates about the place of LGBTQ Anglicans in the church.

While some members expressed weariness over a debate they had been having locally for decades, others admitted that their own dioceses only started seriously discussing same-sex marriage in the last three years.

Because the resolution passed in 2013 required General Synod 2016 to vote on the matter, time to discuss the change was limited. As a result, several members said they felt things were moving too fast for them to make a real decision one way or the other.

Other members simply felt frustrated about the essentially adversarial way the church makes decisions about controversial issues.

“I feel the process we are using is fundamentally broken,” said Bishop Fraser Lawton, of the diocese of Athabasca. “As long as I have had any kind of participation in the church at national-level conversations, we’ve been dealing in some way with sexuality, but we always seem to be coming at it legislatively…there’s been an awful lot of talking, an awful lot of writing, but I’m not sure much conversation has happened.”

Following the vote, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Canadian church, cautioned synod members to be sensitive to the impact the decision would have on Anglicans across the country.

“Let us be mindful of all those for whom this result has pastoral implications, all those whose lives are touched deeply, and of the work that we must do as a church in pastoral care,” he said in a prayer following the vote.

Although the session ended with a service of Evensong, business came thundering back to the floor when Bishop John Chapman, of the diocese of Ottawa, moved a motion calling for a “reconsideration” of the vote due to its closeness.

After a period of confusion about whether or not a recount would be possible, it was ruled that a reconsideration would require a new vote—a decision that was greeted with vocal hostility from some members.

Because the General Synod rules of order do allow a session of synod to revisit a decision it has made, but only if the motion to do so passes with two-thirds approval from the whole house, a separate vote was required before the issue at hand could be voted on again.

Several members came forward to voice concerns about whether such a revote was necessary, but Archdeacon Harry Huskins, prolocutor of General Synod, reminded the meeting’s chair, Hiltz, that the rules of order precluded debate on motions of this kind.

The question was called, but failed to pass, and the decision not to change the marriage canon was upheld.

About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.


Anglican Journal News, July 12, 2016

General Synod opening worship confronts difficult questions

Posted on: July 11th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

Archbishop Fred Hiltz sprinkles the gathering with holy water in a rite of blessing known as asperges, at the opening Eucharist of the 41st General Synod. Photo: Art Babych

Richmond Hill, Ont.
Standing before the broad wooden altar dominating the centre of the meeting hall, clothed in crimson vestments, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, delivered his sermon at the opening Eucharist of the 41st meeting of General Synod in a voice thick with emotion.

“This is the body that through its history has…wrestled with numerous issues within the Church and in the world at large over which we have often found ourselves in deep disagreement,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz said speaking of General Synod itself. “Many of the issues have centred around inclusion.”

In a silence that was palpable save for the low hum of the air conditioners, Hiltz listed the major debates that have arisen and been resolved since the General Synod of the Canadian church first met in 1893—the ordination of women, the right of children to take the Eucharist, the remarriage of divorced persons and the place of Indigenous peoples—before culminating with the most contentious issue of the present day: the marriage of same-sex couples.

“In previous Synods we have often done our work of discernment and decision making well, and sometimes not,” Hiltz said. “We acknowledge that in our efforts to lift every voice we have fallen short in our capacity to hear the voice of the Spirit whispering into our proceedings a word of wisdom and grace.”

The celebration of the Eucharist, rich in pageantry, art and song, officially launched the 2016 triennial meeting of synod being held July 7-12 at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel  & Suites.

As the primate’s words rolled out over the assembly of about 350 members, ecumenical guests, observers and support staff, they carried with them a certain sense of gravity. In only a few days, General Synod members will decide whether or not to allow the marriage of same-sex couples—a decision that could have long-term effects on the internal unity of the Canadian church, and its place in the 77-million member global Anglican Communion.

But Hiltz reminded the gathering that while they face a difficult task they should draw comfort and strength in knowing that they are “being upheld in waves of prayer” by Christians across Canada and around the world.

“All who pray with and for us have an understanding of a Synod for what it truly is—an assembly of the People of God from every jurisdiction within the Church gathered to do its work under the presiding of the Holy Spirit,” said Hiltz. “Accordingly they join us in prayers that the Holy Spirit will come and hover, settle and abide with us, to grace and guide, enlighten and lead.”

A visible sign of this prayerful support was manifest in the presence of a number of ecumenical and interfaith leaders.

Some of them, like Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio, of the Episcopal Church of Cuba, Bishop Francisco de Assis da Silva, primate of Brazil, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church, and National Bishop Susan Johnson, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, will be guests for the entire General Synod.

Others, representing local Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Presbyterian, United Church, Salvation Army, Jewish and Bahá’í communities, would be present only for the opening service.

Hiltz also urged synod members to pray for one another and offered former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ counsel at the 2008  Lambeth Conference to “muster the courage to speak to someone with whom a conversation would be difficult.”

Click here for more photos of the opening Eucharist 

The service began with an unusual twist on an old Anglican tradition: a procession of clergy and lay people carrying colourful wooden staves with elaborate heads reminiscent of shepherd’s crooks and walking sticks, who entered before the main procession of lead clergy and ecumenical guests

According to Elizabeth Adams, the artist who created them, the staves were meant to invoke the people of God on the move, ready to heed the Holy Spirit’s call.

This sense of creativity was carried through other elements of the service. The opening prayers, for example, involved a ceremony in which youth delegates brought jars of water from the four corners of the room to fill the baptismal font, and the service was later punctuated by an interpretive dance performed by members of the L’Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill.


About the Author

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget joined the Anglican Journal in 2014 as staff writer and social media lead. He also serves as managing editor of Whether Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Winnipeg Review, and the Town Crier.


Anglican Journal News, July 08. 2016

Bruce confirmed as first Indigenous Anglican woman priest

Posted on: July 6th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments

The Rev. Ellen Bruce, of Old Crow, Yukon, a widely respected spiritual leader among the Gwichin people, will be recognized—along with other Indigenous trailblazers in the church—at a display booth at General Synod.  Photo: Mike Thomas/Yukon News

A Yukon woman who died in 2010 has been confirmed as the first Indigenous woman to have been ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada. The distinction belongs to the Rev. Ellen Bruce, who was made a priest in 1987, says General Synod archivist Nancy Hurn. Bruce, of the Gwich’in people of northwest Canada and Alaska, was ordained a deacon in 1985 and a priest in 1987, when she was in her late 70s. She had already served as a spiritual leader at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Old Crow, Yukon, where she made her home, for several decades. That Bruce was a trailblazer for Anglican Indigenous women has been recognized before, Hurn says. In 1990, she was named a Member of the Order of Canada; according to the Order of Canada website, Bruce was “the North’s first native woman to be ordained an Anglican minister.”

But it was only earlier this June that General Synod archivists were able to confirm with their counterparts in Anglican diocesan archives across Canada that no other Indigenous woman had been ordained an Anglican priest in Canada earlier than Bruce. The process was set in motion by Hurn’s colleague at national office, Indigenous ministries co-ordinator Canon Ginny Doctor. Doctor says she was recently invited to sit on a panel for an event marking the 80th anniversary of the ordination of the first woman in the United Church of Canada, and thought it would be good to know when the first Anglican Indigenous woman was ordained. She asked Hurn, who checked national office archives but was unable to confirm from the information there. A request for more information from diocesan archives followed soon after. Doctor says she will be recognizing Bruce and other Indigenous trailblazers in the church at a display booth at General Synod, when it meets in Richmond Hill, Ont., July 7-12. These include the first Indigenous man ordained as an Anglican priest in Canada, the Rev. Henry Budd (c. 1812–1875), who was priested in 1853.

Learning about the hardships of those who paved the way for the church in the North, Doctor says, helped sustain her years ago while she herself was serving as a priest in Alaska. “They not only thrived, but they helped the people thrive in terms of faith,” she says. “They were my inspiration for keeping going.”

Similarly, she says, one goal of recognizing people like Bruce and Budd is to encourage other would-be Indigenous spiritual leaders in the church by their example.

“I know what those kinds of stories did for me. And so I’m just thinking that if we begin to tell the stories of how our folks survived in proclaiming the faith, and what they had to do, it might inspire others to do the same.” Bruce was 98 when she died in 2010. According to Yukon News, she was born in Rampart House, a trading post. She grew up living in a tent with her family as it followed a traditional nomadic way of life, surviving by following game across the tundra, but eventually settled in Old Crow.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, the Rev. Marion Schafer, vocational deacon at St. Luke’s, said she had known Bruce as long as she could remember, because Bruce had been a close friend of her mother. “She was a strong, traditional woman. A Christian woman. And spiritual,” Schafer said. Bruce was widely respected and took her role as a spiritual leader very seriously, Schafer said, continuing to do church work until the last year or so of her life, when her failing health made it impossible. Bruce at times grieved the fact that she had never attended public school, Schafer said, but she and others in the community encouraged Bruce by reminding her of the value of her ability to conduct services in Gwich’in.

“I think for me, too, she was my inspiration,” Schafer said. “One really important message she left with us a couple of days before she passed away…was, ‘Don’t ever quit the work you’re doing in church.’ And she used to pray with us, even though she was on her deathbed.”

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.


Anglican Journal News, July 06, 2016